City of Neu Isenburg

Heim Isenburg

Auf der Terrasse von Haus I, Schwarz-weiß Fotografie
Auf der Terrasse von Haus I, Schwarz-weiß Fotografie
Auf der Terrasse von Haus I

On November 25, 1907, the Jewish Women’s Association opened the “Heim Isenburg” for socially uprooted Jewish girls, unmarried pregnant women and single mothers with their children in Neu-Isenburg. Berta Pappenheim, a women’s right activist, politician, and social worker, was founder and director of this institution and one of the most important figures in the Jewish-German women’s movement of the early 20th century. She made the home a place of shelter, education and training for Jewish women and children from the entire German Reich. In addition to that, the home was also training and internship place for students of nursing and domestic science professions.
The first building was located in “Taunusstraße 9″. In the first six years after the establishment, „Heim Isenburg” remained structurally unchanged. Then, in the next few years, the home developed into a complex of four houses with a large garden between the Taunusstraße and Zeppelinstraße which runs parallel. The expansion between 1914-1918 was mainly due to the events of World War I: The number of traumatized and orphaned minors grew dramatically. “Heim Isenburg” took young refugees from the war zones of eastern Europe as well as troubled women and children from the region. The first house in the Taunustrasse continued to be used as the main headquarters (Haus I) with administrative offices, living quarters for the staff and the central kitchen. That is also where the school children were staying. In 1914, a new building (Haus II) was also established for pregnant women and young mothers and their children. Three years later, the Jewish Women’s Association acquired the house next door on Taunusstrasse 7 (House III), to house and educated needy school children that had been traumatized by war. In 1918, Bertha Pappenheim eventually donated House IV in Zeppelinstrasse 6 to provide accommodation for trainees. The house was expanded in 1928 to host and isolate ill people.
Some of the adults and young people who found refuge in the home of the Jewish Women’s Association, stayed only a few days, others for several years. Expectant mothers usually went there during the last months of their pregnancy to prepare for birth. They used to give birth in Frankfurt’s Jewish hospital in Gagernstraße 36 and then looked after their children for a few weeks in “Heim Isenburg”. Then either both mothers and children left the home together, or women left their newborn babies back in the facility, hoping for someone to adopt or care for them.
The socially vulnerable young women who stayed at “Heim Isenburg”, spent an average of one year in the institution. They learned to fit into a routine, to take responsibility, and they were taught in domestic kosher management. After the end of their stay, they either returned home or found a job, mostly as domestic helpers. The young women were housed in the buildings of the Jewish Women’s Association or in the home of Jewish families, where they had to work for accommodation.
The interns were trained for six months or a year. Their numbers grew after 1933 and again after the November pogrom of 1938 because Jewish girls were excluded from public schools and, therefore, could only be schooled in Jewish institutions.
The abandoned children were, if possible, mediated in foster care or adoption. But for many “Heim Isenburg” remained their home for several years. Boys were allowed to remain in the Neu-Isenburg facility only until the age of 6. The elder ones were transferred to other homes, for example, to the Isidor Marx Israelite orphanage in Frankfurt, Röderbergweg 87. During the Nazi regime, domestic adoptions or the placement of children in foster care became more and more difficult, so that the residence times in the home became longer. Some of the kids and adolescents that lived in “Heim Isenburg” found no foster homes because they had intellectual problems or came from disadvantaged backgrounds and had behavioral problems.
Over the entire period of its existence, from 1907 to 1942, about 1500 people were cared for or educated in “Heim Isenburg”. Until the Thirty-Year Celebration in autumn, 1937, 252 pregnant women and mothers, 374 infants and young children and 399 female adolescents had found accommodation in the foundation.

Further Information

  • Auf der Terrasse von Haus I, Schwarz-weiß Fotografie
    Heim Isenburg

    Under NS-Rule

    Life in “Heim Isenburg” could be organized and regulated quite easily until the pogrom of November 1938, even if discrimination and harassments made the life of residents quite hard.
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  • Schwarz-weiß Foto des Bertha Pappenheim Hauses
    Heim Isenburg

    Memorial Site

    In 1996 the City of Neu-Isenburg opened a memorial site which commemorates the life and work of Bertha Pappenheim, who was the founder and the principal of Heim Isenburg.
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Explanations and notes

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